Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Summertime Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a classic summertime dish. I can't remember a family reunion during my childhood that didn't include pasta salad as one of the potluck offerings. This particular recipe is my favorite, passed on to me by my Aunt Joyce. It's so wonderful, my husband begs for it, even when it's not summertime!

This recipe allows for a great deal of tweaking. You can use whatever fresh veggies you have on hand. I've included my family's favorites - tomatoes, cucumber and broccoli. But you can substitute or add onions, green peppers, olives, whatever floats your boat.

But whatever you do, DO NOT skip the Salad Supreme. That seasoning blend takes this pasta salad completely over the top! I guess you could say it's the secret ingredient that makes the dish. Trust me on this one.

Here's what you need:

6 cups dry pasta - I use 2 cups each of bowtie, penne and tricolor rotini for variety and color
4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 cup chopped broccoli florets
1 bottle (16 oz) zesty Italian dressing
1 1/2 -2 TBSP Salad Supreme, divided
8 oz. cheese, cubed - I use sharp cheddar and sometimes a little Colby Jack

Cook the pasta al dente. You don't want it mushy because it will absorb the salad dressing and get mushier. Here's how I do it. I bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. I add the pasta and return the water to a boil, making sure all the pasta is covered with water.Then I turn the burner off and cover the pot. After 10 minutes, I check to see if the pasta is tender and give it a stir. If it's not al dente, I leave it in the pot for another 5 minutes but no longer.

When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it in a large colander and rinse with cool water. This stops the pasta from cooking any further. Allow to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the pasta and veggies. Stir in about half the bottle of salad dressing and 1 TBSP of the Salad Supreme. If the pasta appears too dry, add a little more dressing. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least four hours. Overnight is even better.

Before serving, add the cheese cubes. Pour on some more dressing, if needed. I always need more, but I rarely use the entire bottle. Sprinkle on more Salad Supreme, about half a tablespoon. Taste and see if you need to add any more.
This pasta salad will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. You might have to add a little more dressing if it becomes too dry. I rarely have to do this because my husband eats it for breakfast, lunch and dinner until it's gone!

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